Approximately one in five Phoenix residents experiences a ringing (or similar) noise in the ears called tinnitus. It’s often mild at first, causing little more than annoyance – but over time symptoms may worsen, leading anxiety, stress and irritability. Eventually, the effects of tinnitus can be felt in many areas of your daily life, becoming a distraction that interferes with sleep, wreaks havoc with personal relationships and hinders on-the-job performance. It can be enough to drive you crazy!
Managing Tinnitus in Phoenix
Let’s get the bad news out of the way first: there is no cure for tinnitus. That doesn’t mean you are doomed to a life of suffering, though; management strategies can help you cope with the ringing in your ears and lessen its impact on your daily life. We have compiled several life hacks that can help people with tinnitus in Phoenix improve their quality of life.
- Invest in high-fidelity earplugs. Tinnitus won’t magically reverse itself, so a top priority is preserving your remaining good hearing. This means wearing earplugs anytime you are exposed to potentially damaging sounds, i.e., anything that exceeds 85 decibels. You can pick up a cheap pair of foam earplugs from any drugstore and, while they are better than nothing, high-fidelity earplugs are a better long-term investment. Unlike disposable earplugs that can cause speech and music to sound muffled and distorted, high-fidelity earplugs come with filters that even out volume levels across the hearing spectrum, making it possible to enjoy music at lower volumes and follow conversations more easily. Universal, one-size-fits-all high-fidelity earplugs are available in specialty retailers and online, but for an unparalleled fit and the best protection, talk to your Phoenix audiologist about ordering custom earplugs made from impressions of your ear canals.
- White noise. You’ve probably heard of white noise but may be unfamiliar with what it is exactly. Simply put, white noise is a random collection of frequencies across the entire hearing spectrum. It is often compared to background static and, because it encompasses all audible frequencies, it is excellent at covering up, or masking, distracting noises. Many people use white noise machines or apps to drown out sounds like traffic and loud neighbors and help them sleep at night. The same concept applies to tinnitus; white noise is excellent at masking the ringing in your ears. While sounds such as falling rain and ocean waves are soothing, you don’t need to buy a fancy machine or download an app to achieve the effect; switching on an air-conditioner or fan works just as well! It helps to keep the volume a little lower than your tinnitus; this is known as partial masking and helps your brain habituate to the ringing in your ears more easily, making your tinnitus less bothersome.
- Make a tinnitus kit. The degree to which individuals experience tinnitus varies greatly. For many it is intermittent, making it unpredictable and often catching them off guard. Assembling a tinnitus kit is an excellent way to be prepared for those moments when tinnitus flares up away from home. Pack a bag full of supplies that will help you deal with tinnitus when it occurs; you might include items such as medications, earplugs, hearing aids, headphones and earbuds. It’s also a good idea to have a list of emergency contacts, including your Phoenix hearing specialist, in the event that you need extra assistance.